The nation’s biggest bank, JPMorgan Chase, will hand over $75 million to the U.S. Virgin Islands in claims settlement. The settlement agreement comes on the heels of a lawsuit filed by the Island against the bank, accusing it of aiding Jeffrey Epstein’s sex trafficking enterprise.
In 2019, Jeffrey Epstein, a highly influential financier and convicted sex offender, was arrested yet again on sex trafficking charges. Epstein later died in jail the same year while awaiting trial and being denied a bail application. His death was ruled a suicide.
But as it later turned out, Epstein allegedly had some help in running his sex trafficking operations, prominent among which were his ex-lover, Ghislaine Maxwell, and his bank, JPMorgan Chase. In 2022, his ex-lover, Ghislaine Maxwell, was sentenced to 20 years in prison. She was convicted for her role in luring dozens of underaged girls to Epstein’s homes in New York and Florida.
Over $700 million has been marked out for settlements and claims, mostly to the women who have been victims of Epstein’s abuse. Most of this amount was generated from the sale of his New York mansion and his private island in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
In the words of Brittany Henderson, a lawyer representing Epstein’s abuse victims, “This litigation proves that survivors have a voice, and corporate America is finally ready to listen.”
Somewhere in the middle of the litigation battles surrounding the case was Epstein’s bank, JPMorgan Chase and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Both parties accused the other of looking the other way while Epstein perpetrated his crimes. Proof has since surfaced that has implicated U.S. Virgin Islands’s government officials and top execs of the bank in the Epstein scandal.
JPMorgan’s argument that Epstein was only a regular client has fallen flat on its face. Series of court cases have since exposed an embarrassing level of cooperation between Epstein and some of the bank’s leaders.
One of the bank’s top executives, Jes Stanley, cultivated a personal relationship with Epstein and, for many years, helped him evade compliance concerns. Several court documents showed that Epstein and Staley exchanged photos of underaged women for years.
Epstein, who operated over a dozen accounts in the bank, also had close ties with other bank executives like Jamie Dimon and Mary Erdoes, who he helped link to his wealthy associates. Mary Erdoes, who was in charge of JP Morgan’s Asset and Wealth Management, kept Epstein’s bank account open even after knowing his sex offender status.
The former Virgin Islands governor, John de Jongh, received a loan of $200,000 from Epstein and benefitted $625,000 in private school tuition for his kids from the disgraced financier. Epstein also employed Jongh’s wife, Cecil, for almost two decades.
Now the bank has reached a settlement to the tune of $75 million with the island territory. $20 million of the $75 million will go to Virgin Islands human trafficking-focused charities, while another $20 million will go to legal fees. $25 million will support the Islands’s law enforcement to combat human trafficking, and $10 million will cater to the victim’s mental health.
According to the U.S. Virgin Islands attorney general, Ariel Smith, the settlement is a “historic victory for survivors and for state enforcement” plus a deterrence to Wall Street players who may want to aid or protect human traffickers.